Friday, September 21, 2012

The Iowa Star Party

Last weekend I attended one night of the Iowa Star Party.  Unfortunately, while the night started out nice, a thin haze settled in, leaving less than desirable observing conditions.  The night did give me an opportunity to continue working out operations of the ServoCAT/Argo Navis on the, still relatively new to me, 30" Obsession (affectionately dubbed, 'Anzio Annie').  I continue to get more proficient at setting up the scope by myself.  It is somewhat amazing, that this massive instrument can be setup be a single person.  The next opportunity I'll have for darker skies, is the Heart of America Star Party, occurring in the middle of October, and hosted by Astronomical Society of Kansas City.  The Iowa Star Party itself is a wonderful event.  A more intimate atmosphere, ISP draws perhaps 25-30 amateur astronomers.  A Friday public night drew another 75 or so, members of the public.  Saturday evening, a banquet is held, followed by a speaker from one of the local universities.  This year featured Iowa State professor, Curtis Struck, who gave an informative presentation on colliding galaxies.  I had hoped to attend ISP Thursday through Saturday.  Maybe next year.

Shot of 'Anzio Annie', just prior to tear down, on Sunday morning.

The Great Atlas of the Sky

I ordered a copy of Piotr Byrch's Great Atlas of the Sky today.  The atlas is on sale for only $99 (originally $260) and may well be discontinued. Billed as the 'world's largest atlas of the entire sky', the Great Atlas is indeed massive. Comprised of 296 maps, each covering 15° x 10° of the sky. Each map is 24 x 17 inches.  Over 2.4 million stars are plotted down to magnitude 12, along with over 70,000 galaxies, clusters, and nebulae. Coming from Poland, the atlas will take some two months to produce/ship.  I'll provide a review when it finally arrives!